Copeland, Jones battle for Tenino City Council Position 5 seat

Both of the candidates campaigning for Tenino City Council Position 5 want to guide the council in a positive direction, and they’ve taken to the streets to help tout their platforms.

In the primary election, Susan Copeland received 53.6 percent of the vote, while former mayor Ken Jones received 30.5 percent. Leslie Lamb secured 15.9 percent of the vote, so did not move on to the November election.

A resident of Tenino for about 18 years, Copeland said she is running for the position because she wants to help repair “a very broken system.” She wants to improve the local police department, save the park, and increase public safety.

“(The city) has been lost for a while now and needs some direction,” she said. “I think I could be a strong member on the council that could help make difficult decisions because sometimes I see them struggle to do that.”

Copeland, who is a program manager at Green Hill School, said the most important issue facing the city was the hiring of Russ Ellis as Tenino’s interim police chief. Ellis was originally certified in 2002, and his certification lapsed in April 2004 because he was no longer working as a peace officer on a full-time basis in the state of Washington.

Copeland said the fact the chief was hired and can only perform administrative duties limits resources on the street.

She also concerned about sewer rate increases in the city. The city will be increasing sewer rates by $11 per month, and Copeland said she would like to look into the issue to see if other solutions are possible.

Since the primary, Copeland has been using social media, as well as word of mouth, to educate the public on her platform. She also has put up signs and handed out business cards.

Copeland said her strengths are her ability to solve complex problems and bring a new perspective to the table.

“I think I could bring a different view to the table, and I have a lot of experience making tough decisions,” she said. “This would be a new adventure for me, plus it would be refreshing. Ken Jones has been there before and had his turn.”

Jones has an extensive history serving the city. He was a councilor for six years, and later was the mayor for eight years. He hopes that his past experience can help guide a council made up of mostly new members, he said.

“I think they need a little more experience and direction; perhaps some mentoring and tutoring,” he said. “The councilors are good, but they just haven’t gotten their feet on the ground yet.”

He questioned the dedication of his opponent and said he is unsure she will be able to fulfill the time commitment required of a city councilor. In his 14 years involved with the council, Jones said he only missed five meetings.

Jones has been putting out campaign signs and has scheduled several upcoming campaign rallies.

He said that under past administration, Tenino’s reputation was weakened and he wants to work to improve the city’s standing in South Thurston County and the surrounding areas.

The budget is a problem for the city, Jones said. Although the recovery from the 2008 recession has begun, he said it has been a slow process. In the interim, Jones said, Tenino has suffered and is unable to afford enough police officers.

He said the problems Tenino faces afflict many small communities, but he hopes he can help initiate a rebuilding process.

“We need to begin the process of attracting more businesses and business activity into the south county and consequently into Tenino,” he said.